A Day In The Life of MSNBC…

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple takes a deep deep dive on MSNBC and its daytime broadcasts…

Ok, let’s stipulate a few things right off the bat:

1) If you look hard enough during any daytime broadcast you’re going to find superficial twaddle banter at one point or another.
2) Anyone can have a bad interview or wind up being harder on “one side” vs. “the other side”.
3) Nobody is perfect.
4) There isn’t a single anchor of quality out there who, if I looked long and hard enough at them, I wouldn’t find something that they did that I didn’t like or thought they could do better or I thought they handled badly (see #3).

And that’s what bugs me about part of Wemple’s article. It spends a little too much space going after the soft easy targets that don’t really matter when the sole source of your sample is a single day. That’s why, when I’m evaluating talent and how they do on the air, I look at their entire history on the channel. When you do that things average out and you see who really swims and who really sinks. And this doesn’t just apply to MSNBC but its competition as well.

The rest of Wemple’s article is far more interesting – especially the analysis of “Now” – and particularly how Wemple got Phil Griffin to respond…

When asked about this monotopicalism, Griffin went into something of a lecture: “I’ll tell you, I think we are evolving the channel a bit,” he told the Erik Wemple Blog. “Look, politics is at our core,” he added, noting that MSNBC reaches a diverse audience that reflects “America in the 21st century” in ways that competitors do not. In the coming year, says the network president, MSNBC will be covering more technology and “things that are really changing America.” The idea, he says, is to “broaden out so we’re not as limited by election cycles.”

Interesting. In the election year of 2014, Griffin is apparently suggesting MSNBC will broaden out from “the election cycle”. Shouldn’t that have really happened this year, which was a non-election year?

And there’s this…

More from Griffin: “I think the one thing you can say is that at MSNBC we’re honest to our viewers, we correct mistakes, we don’t put out slogans that are meaningless — ‘We report, you decide’ — and we’re not going to say if we want a candidate to win, that candidate is going to win,” he says.

“we don’t put out slogans that are meaningless”


The upshot is that MSNBC brass is not claiming that its dayside work is straight-up-the-middle reporting. Only in the cesspool of cable news is not lying about the premise of your programming a selling point.


19 Responses to “A Day In The Life of MSNBC…”

  1. So Roberts and Jansing are forgettable, Wagner is too liberal, Mitchell is boring, The Cycle is a show that is on, and there was no way he was going to watch Ed Schultz. Basically MSNBC isn’t a thing Wemple would watch, and his lackluster commentary takes all day to spell this out. Gosh, that was fascinating.

  2. Um, Erik, even Pew’s gone back and watched FNC dayside (during the typhoon and ACA rollout) and come to the conclusion that it is as partisan as primetime. Try to keep up.

  3. I don’t think Erik Wemple actually watches much cable news..

  4. Like sand in your underpants, these are the days of MSNBC.

  5. Woke up, got out of bed.
    Dragged my comb across my head.
    Gawd, Al Sharpton!
    How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?
    GONGggggggggggggggggg g g…

  6. Larry, you’re too funny!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone here at ICN.

  7. And God bless us, everyone.

  8. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone here at ICN.

    kweehsitaatiinki ci meehtikoošia niihka (Merry Christmas and New Year to all).

  9. I don’t think Erik Wemple actually watches much cable news..

    I came to that conclusion as well. We get it, he doesn’t like MSNBC because it’s too liberal. Well, duh. Any Conservative that watches MSNBC will make the same boring remarks he did – just like any Liberal who watches Fox News will have the same boring remarks about their partisan programming.

    Wemple’s story about FNC, he pretty much said FNC’s dayside was non-partisan and was hard news but only cited two hours of their daytime programming as evidence. Why didn’t he take Chris Jansing and Thomas Roberts’ shows (two hours) or Andrea Mitchell and Tamron Hall and say that those two hours in morning or afternoon were straight news? Instead, he said that Chris and Thomas are forgettable, Andrea’s boring and NewsNation is okay.

    It’s nothing more than a hit piece that might as well have been posted on Daily Caller.

  10. The concept of a review is to judge the piece on how well it does what it’s trying to do. Wemple may as well have watched a Die Hard movie, then said “It’s boring. I don’t like action flicks.”

  11. The man highlights two hours to justify why FNC is a balanced, down the middle, news channel. But when it comes to MSNBC, he ignores five hours of news coverage (aside from one brief remark that MSNBC’s breaking news coverage was solid) he uses Martin Bashir’s program (which wasn’t even on the day he sat down and watched for his thorough examination of MSNBC Dayside) and Alex Wagner’s program to justify that the network was a liberal marketing machine. Brilliant.

  12. Both networks are partisan talk show networks with occasional news coverage thrown in when warranted. It’s not that hard to admit. And it’s the only way to be successful.

    If you want to watch news on cable news, there’s only one destination for that. And, unfortunately, not many people are watching AJAM.

  13. Speaking of MSNBC Dayside programming, they ran a special Hardball today which was all stupid quotes from stupid Republicans in 2013. On Christmas Eve. That’s the most bizarre decision since Alan Keyes Is Making Sense.

  14. It’s what they are. Most of their fans lapped it up.

  15. I sampled AJA for ten minutes today News-host-pretty-girl asks correspondent at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral:

    Q. “What special message will the pope have tonight?”

    A. “Same message as every year.”

    With the bit of genius, I grabbed the remote.

  16. It’s what they are. Most of their fans lapped it up.

    And most of FNC’s fans would’ve lapped up the same crap. Being able to criticize your preferred cable news channel comes hard to some people.

  17. The Hannity show sucks and you couldn’t pay me enough money to watch the FNC judge lady. There, that wasn’t so hard.

  18. Nixon - niila niihpikiiookwa meentwasiaani Says:

    I find O’Reilly insufferable, Hannity has a medical condition called stercore enim cerebris. Geraldo is a blustering buffoon. Huckabee reminds me of Gomer Pyle. I could go on and on.


    Glenn Greenwald does a nice recap rightin their front yard:

    Appearing on MSNBC, former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald compared his defense of NSA leaker Edward Snowden to MSNBC “promoting” President Obama’s agenda “24 hours a day.”

    “That’s ludicrous,” Greenwald said. “Where on MSNBC now were close to 24 hours a day, the agenda of President Obama and the Democratic Party are promoted, defended, glorified…the agenda of the Republican Party is undermined.”

    “The point is not so much about MSNBC and what happens here,” host Kristen Welker responded, asking Greenwald if he crosses the line by defending Snowden.

    “Sure I do defend him, just like people on MSNBC defend President Obama and his officials and Democratic Party leaders 24 hours a day,” Greenwald shot back.


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